Dombrowski says Leyland will be back

Dave Dombrowski told Lynn Henning and the Detroit News that Jim Leyland will be managing the Tigers next year. Seeing as this wasn’t a sound bite, it’s tough to get a flavor for how ringing the endorsement was given this is the quote that Henning had:

“Yes, oh yeah,” Dombrowski said when asked if Leyland would absolutely return in 2009. “He’s under contract next year.”

No mention of his aptitude or qualifications, simply a statement that Leyland is under contract. Curious?

As for my take, I agree with Leyland in that he stunk this year. I’ve never been a fan of his in game management, but watching the 2006 team made me question my previously held belief that managers couldn’t really make that much of a difference. Maybe a capable leader could motivate professionals making millions of dollars to play better.

But then there was this year. A year when the team came out flat. When the team was making fundamental baserunning, fielding, and pitching mistakes. That’s all on Leyland’s watch. The good of 2006 and the bad of 2008.

Then there is the matter of the August-September swoons. I wasn’t worried the first 2 years, because a sample of two hardly marks a trend. But this year’s limp to the finish line is enough to make me concerned.

In short, I don’t know if I want him back.

57 thoughts on “Dombrowski says Leyland will be back”

  1. I’m glad to see him come back. Some of his baserunning decisions I can’t stand, and I think he mucks with bullpen pitchers a bit much or doesn’t let starters stick it out enough. But, overall, this year isn’t on him IMHO.

    Glad to see him coming back. I think he’s good for the young players too.

  2. I don’t want him back for a couple of reasons. One, he’s lost the team. Its been a gradual process. Reminiscent of Larry Bird’s comment that professional athletes only pay attention to their coaches an average of 1.5 years, slowly tuning them out until around the completion of 3 years the manager usually no longer has any impact on the players. So perhaps it’s not his fault, as it is rather common, but it’s merely indicative that a change is needed.

    Second, he tolerates slackers, always a recipe for disaster. Heck, he coddles some of them. Third, he’s dishonest with the fans. Perhaps that’s not fair because maybe all managers lie to their fans to ‘protect’ their players. I just thought Leyland was different, after all, he did claim that he was different in that way, honest and straight up with the fans, what a crock.

  3. I feel the same way. I love Leyland as a person and his personality and am very grateful for the job that he did in 2006. I’m just not sure he has control over THIS team or will be able to motivate the 2009 team.

    If anything happens with Leyland… it won’t be a firing. Dombrowski and him go too far back. Leyland will resign before he is let go.

  4. I agree with Greg, as well. Leyland was the right guy for the 2006 team–a young, newly-contending team that needed an old hand to manage the emotional ups/downs. The team needs a new leader now to get the veterans remotivated for next year.

  5. I’m fine with Leyland resigning (not be read as re-signing) as long as the new manager gives Good Quote, preferably with easily-guessed expletives deleted.

  6. So where’s Carlos Guillen? He was supposed to be back before the end of the season. If he’s on the DL, I must have missed it. Maybe he’s been traded already? I almost forgot he was still on the team. Then I saw his name on the bb-ref team page, and said to myself, hey, I remember that guy. That was the guy who used to get on base a lot and always seemed to be the steady producer through thick and thin.

  7. Rays have a chance to clinch today and I’ll be there. I’m pretty sure WSox clinched in a day game at Comerica in 2005 (but Bilfer will know) and I was there too. Gosh, should be fun again….

  8. So with Millen (finally) gone. Maybe the media can turn their focus to Leyland and apply some pressure until he is fired.

    Maybe someone should ask one of the illitch’s if they were in charge, would they fire Leyland.

  9. A Millen/Leyland analogy makes no comparative sense. Millen/Dombrowski and Marinelli/Leyland do. Whether or not they are appropriate, well, hmmmm…

  10. Honestly, can anyone give a legit reason that he should be back?

    -its the end of the 3rd year and they’ve underachieved in 2 of those seasons
    -The team quit
    -The coaching staff is not good
    -His managerial decisions are poor

    The man is below .500 for a reason. If you actually think they will play to their talent level next year or overachieve, what colored glasses are you looking at the situation from?

  11. Anthony,

    – 1 of those three years was a significant over achievement while there are significant reasons beyond his control for underachieving in this year at least.
    – Its difficult to say if the team quit on Leyland or the season, if its demonstrated that they did quit on Leyland I would agree that there’s no other solution.
    – What are your reasons for saying the coaching staff is no good? I’m assuming you mean Hernandez, and there’s been plenty of discussion on him getting more criticism than he deserves, but let me know if you want my recap of that.
    – Managerial decisions…ok, you have that right…at least partially. I’m not sure I qualify as an expert on when pitching decisions should be made, but the Sheffield issues alone are enough in that dept.

    Some “big name” managers and their records (Games, W, L, %)

    Cox: 4181 / 2326 / 1852 .557%
    Gardenhire: 1129 / 620 / 509 .549%
    Torre: 4001 / 2150 / 1845 .538%
    LaRussa: 4606 / 2457 / 2146 .534%
    Pinella: 3258 / 1700 / 1558 .522%
    Francona: 1454 / 753 / 701 .518%

    Leyland: 2683 / 1323 / 1358 .493%
    w/ Tigers: 481 / 254 / 227 .528%

    I pulled these numbers from (

    I highly encourage people to check out Torre’s non-Yankee numbers as well as Francona’s non-RSox numbers. I think you’ll find that teams seem to have a bigger impact on a manager’s success rate than the other way around.

  12. Vince, comparing – as in “likening” – anyone in the Tigers organization to Matt Millen would be insulting and unfair. If the Tigers had only one starter, Dontrelle Willis, and only one reliever, Kyle Farnsworth, and these 2 had to pitch every game for a full season, it would take 10 years of this to be comparable to Matt Millen’s effect on the hopes and enthusiasm of Lions fans.

    I’m sorry, Dontrelle. I don’t mind being insulting and unfair with Kyle Farnsworth. He’s a Yankee in the wrong uniform. I hope he’s at the point where he won’t even bring a draft pick, so the Tigers can just DFA him.

  13. “If Leyland is back in 2009, Chuck Hernandez needs to be somewhere else. Fact.”

    Mike in CT shall, from now on, be know as “Dwight from PA”.

  14. Here’s acomparison for you: Giving Leyland an extension (to say nothing of bringing him back to finish out his contract) is like giving Brandon Inge, Gary Sheffield or Nate Robertson a multi-year contract.

  15. Vince,

    I almost flew off the handle and then recognized you and remembered previous exercises in impulsiveness. Fool me once…


    You say Leyland tolerates slackers but give no examples. Leyland tolerates many things, but I don’t think that’s one of them. Also Bird’s take on how long players respond to coaches probably doesn’t apply to baseball as evidenced by many “effective” long-termed managers (Cox and Larussa being just two examples).

  16. Smokin’

    In my attempts at trying to be more centered and less judgemental, I guess I was being too narrow (and therefore fair?) in my interpretation of what an appropriate comparion between Leyland and Millen should be. Of course, Millen is a complete buffoon and has been the laughing stock of professional football, if not all of professional sports, since he was hired 8 years ago (!). As to your opinion that it would be insulting and unfair to compare anyone in the Tigers organization to him, and given your broader definition of what an appropriate comparison would be, as a rabid fan and Leyland-hater (billfer’s description), I must insist on my right to over-react (Dr. Dre’s description) and insist on said unfair and insulting comparison.

    I am sure that when the inevitable axe falls and Leyland is fired, I will return to my usual glass-is-half-empty state from the glass-is completely-empty current condition. I just hope I don’t have to wait another 2 years for it to happen.

  17. Dr Dre,

    “I almost flew off the handle and then recognized you and remembered previous exercises in impulsiveness. Fool me once…”

    Ha ha. Yours or mine?

  18. Vince, mine…totally.

    Also, I feel like my defense of Leyland should be qualified.

    First, it would be much easier to agree with the “haters” if they would throw some potential successors in the mix and explain why they think they would be better.

    Second, I’m not writing off the possibility that, in situations such as the aftermath of the Tigers ’08 season, change of any kind may be positive.

    If for whatever reason Leyland isn’t managing next season, I will not be crushed…but I won’t initially be convinced that all that was wrong with the club was Leyland.

  19. Dr. Dre –

    I disagree that it doesn’t apply to baseball. It’s a general principal, not an absolute. Also remember the the results of tuning out are not going to be exactly the same in every instance, every group is different. There are numerous factors involved, including tolerating slackers.

    Examples? Isn’t that a little bit like asking for examples of it raining this year? I guess you haven’t watched Sheffield much this year. If you have, you’ve seen plenty of examples.

  20. the tigers are 13-27 over the past 40. im glad leyland isnt being held accountable for just absolutely letting the team tank after the first weeks of august. bring him back he is a great motivator, he cares.

    obviously kidding. it’s a joke that he allowed everyone to give up. even they finish anywhere near .500 he comes back fine, the bullpen imploding which seems was their worst problem during the hellfire wasnt totally his fault, ill discount the other mistakes he’s made. but the tanking the past number of weeks is unacceptable. if im mike illitch im super pissed

  21. One thing that may work in Leyland’s favor if he’s back for 2009 – as I rather expect he will be – is that the team situation will be more post-2005 than post-2006. I’m sure there are flaws in this comparison, and I wouldn’t mind hearing them. But – the burden of 1000-run, division winner shoo-in expectations will presumably be off of everyone’s shoulders. Most of all Leyland’s.

  22. 13-27 over the past 40? What’s making me sick is 1-12 over the past 13. That is SURREAL. There are reasons for it, though (besides the obvious ones like being outscored and such), some of which we may have to wait a while to find out about. So it only seems unreal. Or surreal. Whatever.

  23. greg,

    I’ve seen plenty of Sheffield this year, and aside from the odd slow trot to 1B on what appears to be a routine out (of which I’ve seen more grievous examples from Maggs…standing in the box on route to a double play) I’m not seeing slacking from Sheff.

    Myself, along with others, are not seeing as much production from Sheffield as we’d like, but that is separate from effort. When players like Sheff don’t produce, its natural to put them under the microscope and see more than is there. Leyland wouldn’t have to come up with much of an excuse to sideline Sheff with an “injury” if he felt he was dogging it.

    Your general player tuning out principle, as you state it, is based on the observation of one Larry Bird…but you also say its different for every group…so I’m going to read “general” as alternately “subjective” and “variable”.

  24. I’m just happy to say that I may have been at the Tigers last victory in 2008. Yay for me. I’ll just ignore the fact that the game was played on September 17.

  25. Vince,

    If the team restructured Inge’s contract to have the bulk of it as incentives that would only vest if he tackled a certain amount of opposition catchers, would his contract be easier to swallow?

  26. The finish to this season is aggrivating. Obviously, the majority of the club is slapping a 41 cent stamp on the remainder of the games. However, the real disappointment was the 0-7 start, which blossomed to 2-12 or whatever it was. They just dug themselves a hole that they could never get out of. I think if they’d have come out 7-7 after those first 14 games, the story of the season may have ended up being different. Perhaps. Of course that’s probably not true since the symptoms of losing those games (bad pitching) was never really cured.

  27. The apocalypse is nigh. Ramon Santiago takes Scott Kazmir deep?! I’m going to go out and stock up on canned goods.

  28. Dr. Dre – It’s based not on the observation of one, but the observation of numerous individuals in throughout professional sports. I mention him because of his clout. It’s a general rule, to which there are always exceptions. We can rest assured that the 2008 Tigers are not one of those exceptions.

    As far as slacking, you yourself have mentioned the egregious examples committed by Sheff and Maggs.

    I rest my case.

  29. Dre,

    I don’t really think that Leyland is to blame for all of the Tigers’ problems
    this year, but he is a part of it for sure. To borrow a Leyland term from earlier in the season, I think “drastic” changes are needed. I have no recommendations for a replacement, but given JL’s performance during his tenure (IMHO, I know not everybody sees it the same way), I just don’t think he is capable of affecting those changes, and therefore I see no reason in keeping him on board. My fear is that next year we’ll get results something like this season; probably somewhat better, since it is ahrd to magine it it being worse, but nothing outstanding. His in-game skills are poor in my estimation and his reputation as a motivator is in serious doubt.

    As far as player performance goes, there is a lot of blame to go around there too, and again I prescribe “drastic” solutions by cutting a fairly good portion of the team off of the 25- and 40-man rosters. There are a few players whose performances could be chalked up to bad years (Verlander), but there are a number who haven’t cut the mustard for periods long enough to be pretty conclusive they are not going to improve (Rodney, Sheffield, Inge, Glover, etc.). These need to be surgically excised as well.
    Some of the injured (Bonderman, Zumaya) I’d give a pass in the hope that they come back. The bottom line is that there are too many career underperformers on this team for my taste and I would frankly rather see some of the roster spots taken over by “kids”.
    Then there are the issues with upper management personnel decisions (including the farm system’s ability to draft for and teach fundamentals), and the questions concerning the medical staff’s ability to head off and diagnose injuries.

    Maybe this was just an odd one-off-year, but it looks like the whole orgaization may be riddled with weaknesses that need some kind of “drastic” attention paid. Perhaps it was not only the fans who got over-hyped by the “1000-run” Tigers and a guaranteed World Series victory before the start of this season. Hopefully, the silver lining of this dark cloud will get them busy and they realize that “they haven’t done anything yet”.

  30. I’d much rather see Chuck Hernandez shown the door in the offseason. Sure, Galarraga was a pleasant surprise in the rotation. But Verlander…he “tweaked” some things to make him “more efficient”. Fixing something that isn’t broke is not usually a good way to go about it. And Robertson has severly regressed. Who knows WTF is wrong with Willis. No one on the entire team seems to be capable of throwing strikes consistently. A change is in order I believe.

  31. greg,

    You posited a general rule that players will tune out coaches over time. Of course there will be exceptions to any “rule”, but the part that makes it a rule is where the overwhelming majority of cases fall in line with said rule.

    I’ve never heard of this rule before today, and I would say I pay enough attention different sports to think that if it were common knowledge, I’d have heard it already. I would imagine that this general rule would be quite difficult to illustrate.

    Also, by giving the example of instances where Magglio has appeared to slack, I meant to show that you can find whatever you want if you look hard enough. Every player is going to have moments where they don’t give, or don’t appear to give, their all. Sheffield is a character, “but the observation of numerous individuals in throughtout professional sports” doesn’t support the claim that he is a slacker.

    Resting a case is best done after giving ample evidence to support one to begin with.

  32. I mentioned this hilarity before, but in watching the Twins / Sox series, I always get a kick out of the transition Hawk makes between the early doubts, “its ok, we’ll get you some runs”, to preparing the audience for a defeat, “its just really tough to come into this park and beat them at home”.

    I effin hate the W. Sox, from top to bottom…they deserve that announcer and I’ll be thrilled to root for the Twins to make the post-season.

  33. Dr. Dre

    The evidence presented, which you yourself mentioned, is the epitome of compelling evidence. If those examples don’t convince you that they are slackers, nothing will.

    Joe Madden agrees, just go ask BJ Upton. Also note that Tampa is in first place, while Detroit is in last.

    I haven’t pioneered something new, just mentioning something that is common knowledge in the industry, if you listen/believe those in the industry.

    Believe what you want.

  34. greg,

    I’m noting the relative positions of both Tampa and Detroit, and you are correct in listing them in first and last respectively. However, that is the last thing you give a definitive example of.

    May I inquire to which topic of agreement you refer to before I go off asking BJ Upton if Joe Madden agrees? If its the evidence I presented, I just previously clarified that anyone looking for evidence of slack will find it when they look hard enough. I might, if I were so inclined, identify instances of laziness in each player in the league…that would not in and of itself show each player to be lazy on the whole.

    Any chance you’ll point me in the direction of the sports consensus on players tuning out coaches you speak of? Seriously, I’ll retract on that point if you do.

  35. Sorry, I generally don’t document things like that. Nor do I document specific examples of, say,….. meteorologists predicting it’s going to rain. I assure you that it is a common belief among meteorologists that it does rain. However, I cannot prove this, nor do I have a desire to. Likewise I have no desire to prove my aforementioned reiteration of a principle I’ve heard mentioned countless times by those in the industry.

    As far as BJ Upton, he loafs at times, Madden benched him for this. Madden doesn’t tolerate loafing. Leyland does.

    Dr Dre wrote:

    I just previously clarified that anyone looking for evidence of slack will find it when they look hard enough.


    Ironic statement of the year award. Sounds more like denial of slacking, even though you’ve seen it yourself.

  36. greg,

    “I just previously clarified that anyone looking for evidence of slack will find it when they look hard enough”

    In writing this I was illustrating (maybe poorly) the tendency of confirmation bias or:

    ‘the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs’

    Now, it could be that my own bias leads me to look at the occasional instance of Sheffield jogging to 1B on what is almost certainly a clear out, and think, well so does every other guy…hence my reference to instances of other players (who aren’t considered lazy) doing similar things occasionally. Or I could be right, Sheffield isn’t lazy in general, its just that when you see him doing something lazy (that’s common league wide) you come to the conclusion that he’s lazy in general.

    As for your general rule of players tuning out coaches, I think it is much more a function of success than it is a function of time.

  37. “I assure you that it is a common belief among meteorologists that it does rain. However, I cannot prove this, nor do I have a desire to.”

    greg, in case you’re worried about your inability to prove that meteorologists hold a common belief about whether or not it does in fact rain, I was able (with much difficulty) to track down a source to confirm your previously unprovable belief:

    see, you just have to want to.

  38. Greg has a bit of a problem with grasping the concept that things can be proven. We all have our faults, though.

  39. lol

    Dave BW – I can grasp some concepts, including false ones, and the one you just mentioned. Nothing can be proven absolutely, I grasp that some people erroneously believe that you can. It makes them feel secure. In reality, we can only deal with degrees of certainty.

    Some statisticians think they can prove certain things, that player A is better than player B for instance, but the so called proof is only valid if you accept all of their presuppositions, which are usually unprovable, yet are accepted as gospel among many sabermetricians, but not other baseball analysts.

    Dr. Dre is once again missing the point(maybe, or perhaps he was just trying to be jocund). Why would someone even bother trying to prove that it occassionaly rains? It’s silly, it’s a waste of time. To me it is anyway. And if someone questioned that it rained, would you really take them seriously?

    It’s just a way of illustrating a point. I’m sure if I wanted to waste the time, I could come up with numerous quotes about coaches losing a team, or more particularly having an impact for a while, then losing a team. But why would I? Basically, he’s suggesting that I’m making this up. Even though in a few weeks I’ll see on Baseball tonight, or NFL This Week, or ‘Fill in your favorite sports analysis show’. I’ll hear a quote reflecting this belief, and it will be the I dunno, 50th, 100th, 200th time I’ve heard it? I haven’t been counting. Why would I be interested in proving this? It would be silly. There’s just no benefit in doing so.

    I’ve discovered that some people simply believe what they want to believe and don’t want to get confused with facts. When I sense that, there’s really no point in continuing the ‘debate’. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

  40. Dr Dre: “Vince,

    If the team restructured Inge’s contract to have the bulk of it as incentives that would only vest if he tackled a certain amount of opposition catchers, would his contract be easier to swallow?”

    Even if the player’s union would let that slide, it’s a little too narrow. It would be more fair to also add in other incentives to the mix, like number of times he tricks the umpire about what the count is.

    Another clause which might appeal to Inge would be once the team is eliminated from playoff contention, he could have weekends off to play another sport. Because after watching the Lions first couple of games, and then seeing Inge take down Martinez…well let’s just say some part time secondary help couldn’t hurt the Lions

  41. I can handle another year of Leyland on one condition . . . I want to know what the heck that man is eating every night during the post game interview. I think if we have to listen to the same old BS excuses after a loss, the least he could do is lighten it up a bit and share his cuisine selection w/us, especially since we have to watch it spill out of his mouth on occasion and it would be a thrill to be able to identify the substance! 🙂

  42. greg,

    in case i’m the one missing the point, i’ll restate what it was you said that i took issue with:

    “Reminiscent of Larry Bird’s comment that professional athletes only pay attention to their coaches an average of 1.5 years, slowly tuning them out until around the completion of 3 years the manager usually no longer has any impact on the players.”

    other than your paraphrasing of Mr. Bird, I’ve never heard of any generalization of players tuning coaches out based on time.

    on the other hand, i have heard of coaches/managers losing a team, but the only general rule I can associate with that phenomena is that the teams in question were losing consistently, or there was some severe disconnect between the players and the coach/manager (again, nothing to do with elapsed time).

    players tuning coaches out at the 3 year mark (or at any point) doesn’t seem to be a general rule when it almost never happens to winning teams. the much more simple way to determine when players will tune coaches out seems to be when they begin consistently losing.

    maybe you’re right though…and just in case, when I’m watching the Wings play this year, i’ll keep an ear open for any comments along the lines of, “wow, these players still seem to be buying into Babcock’s philosophy, even though its been more than three years!”.

  43. I think there is probably an amount of time before players start tuning out coaches, and I think it is probably closer to 3 games than 3 seasons (probably was 1 for Isaiah).

    When teams are winning, nobody notices this of course, because first of all, the coach isn’t trying to fix anything, so there isn’t very much to tune out in the first place. Secondly, nobody is analyzing the relationship, because there is nothing wrong to figure out. So the tuning out is incidental and inconsequential.

  44. dre: I’ve heard the three years comment, too, though I can’t remember where or even what evidence it was based upon.

  45. @Loon

    To clarify those bullpen homers, those 10 were just the ones where it pulled the opposition even or put them ahead. There have been nearly 50 homers hit from the 7th inning on since the ASB in total.

  46. To be fair, dre, greg might well have been the source the time I heard the comment before, too 🙂

    I seem to recall seeing it on the internet SOMEWHERE — most likely cited by ESPN or some such thing.

  47. Kids tune out parents all the time. That is why the divorce rate is so high. Or is it the other way around? Or maybe it’s the husband tuning out the wife and tuning in someone younger, more attractive and a more knowledgeable Tiger fan. There are lots of variables in this tuning out process, too many to mention.

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